Thursday, November 14, 2013

West Coast Wedding Extravaganza - Day 3

Monday, August 19, 2013: Monterey & Big Sur, CA

We woke up early on Monday and headed on our first big day trip: out to Monterey and Big Sur.  Several people had recommended visiting Big Sur, and one of the things I especially wanted to do was drive along the coast.  Unfortunately, without a real map, we ended up skipping most of Route 1 from San Francisco, and I fought with Roger in the car trying to get him to figure out a way to get over there in the morning.  As it turns out, us fighting in the car became a theme of the trip.  Word to the wise: bring a GPS or at least make sure one of your phones can hold a charge.  Ooops.

Outside the Monterey Aquarium

We did make it over to Route 1 and took in some nice views before we made our way into Monterey, where Drew had recommended that we visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  It was fun to walk through Cannery Row, which is pretty touristy now, and the Aquarium itself was really nice.  Very big, but still manageable in  a few hours, and we got to touch starfish and see otters (which were enormous! so much bigger than I remember), penguins and jellyfish.  Strangely, one of my favorite things that we saw there was an enormous tank of sardines.  Obviously sardines have a lot to do with the history of the area, but I've never really seen them before.  They're just gorgeous, like a giant silver body.  The views out from the aquarium were also really beautiful - there were some people kayaking on the water and I was definitely a little jealous of them.  It was a perfect day to be out on the water.

Jellies!

After spending most of the morning at the aquarium, we decided to hit the road again, and drove just a bit south to Seventeen Mile Drive.  This was honestly one of my very favorite parts of the trip.  Roger and I aren't great at road trips; we rush through things and never know where to pull over, we fight and get lost, he hates the way I drive and I hate the way he navigates and vice versa.  It's usually just a little disastrous.  Seventeen Mile Drive was the perfect solution to this.  It's a gorgeous cliffside drive through the Pebble Beach golf course, with little pull-asides to lead you from picturesque point to picturesque point.  While on it, we stopped at a lovely beach, saw a giant group of beautiful harbor seals sunning themselves (alongside some incredible sea birds!), and gazed across gorgeous cliffside vistas.  It was absolutely one of the best parts of our time in California.

Seventeen Mile Drive
Harbor Seals!

We took our time driving through each of the sites, stopping and gawking at some truly beautiful vistas.  The drive is private, and there's a fee to get in (I think it's $9), but if you stop at the Lodge at Pebble Beach for lunch (or drinks and a snack at the Terrace Lounge, like we did!), they'll reimburse you for the fee.  I was really glad we stopped in, even though the bar was closed and fog had rolled in to block our views of the 18th hole.  The atmosphere was really lovely (I wished I'd been in fancier clothes!) and it was great to stop and pause for a little while over our grilled cheese fries (they are a thing!) and beer.  I was sad to see so much fog blocking our views there, since that's what they're so well-known for, but since it's one of the things San Francisco is best-known for, I guess it was good to see that, too.  Of course, about twenty minutes after we left the fog lifted.  Oh, well.

Along Scenic Route 1

After a nice wander at the lounge, we saw a few more sites on the drive (we made it the whole way around), then continued south on Route 1 toward Big Sur.  It's rare that a drive is as beautiful as the drive along Route 1 was!  We drove along the coastline and passed through some beautiful forested areas on our way to Nepenthe, the dinner spot that Kristin had recommended to us.  She said the food was great, but it was really the views that were spectacular.  Sadly, by the time we arrived, the fog had rolled back in by the time we arrived, so we missed what I'm sure are absolutely gorgeous views.  But, it was a nice dinner anyway.  There was a bit of a wait when we arrived, so we each got a glass of wine and took them outside to the patio, where they had a fire rolling.  Roger noted that someone who wanted to look at the menu we were holding was more talkative about it than someone in New York would have been (I like to think they were "more polite" about it), and we ended up waiting about a half hour before our table inside was ready.  The food was good, but overall, the atmosphere is really what made the place so great.  It wasn't a highlight of the trip for us, but I can imagine that on a clear, nice day, it's a gorgeous place to sit and enjoy a relaxing meal.

The drive back to San Francisco felt really long, and I almost dozed a few times (I'm really not good at night driving!), so that was less than pleasant, but overall, the day was wonderful.  I don't think I could have asked for a better day trip!

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